Members and regular readers of the summer 2016 edition of our Wildlife magazine will have hopefully read my short news article about the Common Sandpiper that was ringed as part of a long term study at Farlington Marshes. As mentioned in that article, Duncan Bell from Farlington Ringing Group ringed an adult Common Sandpiper on 10th August 2013, and fitted it with a unique combination of coloured leg rings. These were used to increase the chances of the bird being recovered would enable the bird to be specifically identified in the field.
On 6th March 2016 Duncan received an email from the International Wader Study Group requesting information on this bird. Rune Nilsson, a Norwegian birder had recorded it breeding on 1st July 2015 on the River Vismunda near Lake Mjøsa, in Norway, and submitted an image of the bird to confirm his sighting.
On 21st July 2015, Rob Skinner (our Reserves Officer at the time) saw the same bird back at Farlington Marshes, feeding along the stream, which we were pretty excited about. Whilst this was not the first Common Sandpiper movement between Hampshire and Norway, to our knowledge this was the first time that a Hampshire ringed bird has been recorded on its breeding ground and back at the place of ringing. But the story doesn’t end there….
In July 2016 Rune contacted Duncan again to inform him that the same bird was indeed back at its breeding ground. He included a series of photos and maps of its location, the site where the bird breeds and the bird itself.
We suspect that this bird is a male since it has now returned to the same breeding site for two consecutive years, and hope that it will do so for many years yet. The Common Sandpiper is a moderately common passage migrant in Hampshire; with a few birds regularly wintering. The national longevity record is 15y, 1m, 5d set in 2007, with the oldest recorded bird in Hampshire being 8y 0m 0d (18/08/1977 – 18/08/1985), a bird ringed and retrapped at Farlington Marshes. We are very grateful to Rune for keeping Duncan informed with sightings of this bird and hope to be able to give further updates in the future.